Audible memory

DUVET

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During an old duffers Skype call the other night we got onto the subject of audible memory. I came to the conclusion that I am definitely not in the A/B camp of yes I hear a difference straight away. For me its only when I remove and replace someone thing in the system that I'm very used to that I am sure of my conclusions. The point incase was briefly replacing my Allnic H-1500 II phono stage with a Whest PS 30R the previous incumbent in my system . First impression was wow clean so I am sort of immediately swayed but then 30 mins later I'm hankering for the Allnic . My point is that if I was not familiar with either phono stage and was asked to A/B I don't think I would back myself to make the right call for me .
 

griffo104

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I think A/B doesn't really work for me, you need to have a good listen before swapping out and making a judgement.

Having many dacs/amps and headphones I regularly do a week of in depth listening and then change the headphones or the dac over and listen to the same set of albums. It's not always apparent on a quick listen what attributes you miss or find. Someone on another forum mentioned about picking an album of music you know but not something you would listen to, I chose the Pet Shop Boys, I know their singles, I've heard them on the radio but I've never listened to an album of theirs and also it isn't really my sort of music.

I played the album once each night, from start to finish, over 4 nights changing only my main headphones, it's quite surprising how much you pick up when you aren't overly familiar with the music and don't have any bias at work, and also how very different the headphones were and what strengths and weaknesses they had with just that one album. By the 4th listen where you now know the music better does that change how you view the fourth headphone from that first listen?

If I chose just one track and changed the headphones straight after even though I would have listened to just the one track I don't feel I would have fully judged the headphones correctly even though within the space of 30 mins I would have listened to all 4 sets of headphones.
 

lazycat

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I'm always wary of difference as opposed to better, even when a piece of kit/fettle is 'obviously' better.

I'll try something for a week or so then replace the original kit. My most recent experience was when I bought my Pellar (at a bargain price). It was different to my Graham Slee, some things were better initially but not 100%.

It was only after 2 weeks of listening and swapping back that it was obvious the Pellar was better in every respect and much more suited to my cartridge/system. I'm pleased I made the effort because the past 10 months have confirmed this.
Leave one in for a week and play your fav test LP's, then swap. If you have the time.
 

maddog_007

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My LP12 was in dire need of a good thrashing .....so i took it out to Loud n Clear in GLasgow and got it sorted.
They wheeeched the old Cirkus and Lingo One right oot, replacing this with a spanking new Karousel bearing plus a new Lingo Four.
my "audible memory" tells me that this new setup sonically beats the crap out of the old deck's bits.
Put on Aladdin Sane just to check, Mick Ronson's guitar was sounding brilliant !.
£2.5k well spent as these upgrades have transformed my LP12... i'm now enjoying everthing i play my vinyl collection ..Yay!".
 
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tuga

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During an old duffers Skype call the other night we got onto the subject of audible memory. I came to the conclusion that I am definitely not in the A/B camp of yes I hear a difference straight away. For me its only when I remove and replace someone thing in the system that I'm very used to that I am sure of my conclusions. The point incase was briefly replacing my Allnic H-1500 II phono stage with a Whest PS 30R the previous incumbent in my system . First impression was wow clean so I am sort of immediately swayed but then 30 mins later I'm hankering for the Allnic . My point is that if I was not familiar with either phono stage and was asked to A/B I don't think I would back myself to make the right call for me .

I find A-B to highlight (macro) differences but not helpful for determining preference.

And differences are obvously determined by or limited to whatever is possible with the programme material being played.
 

lostwin

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A-B testing can be a bit of a pain, particularly if it takes 10 or more minutes to do the change over - you do feel that your aural memory is more susceptible to bias and wanting to hear a change.

Having said that, I put on an LP that I know well but hadn’t played for a few months last night. No key kit changes in that time but plenty of tinkering with isolation and the like, so incremental improvements that I thought worked at the time.

My aural memory was strong enough to clearly discern the changes - thankfully positive- so there maybe a bit of short term / long term in how this type of memory works as well.
 

pmcuk

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The usual term is "auditory memory".

I find memory isn't ultra reliable for tiny sound changes in one's system - you really need to A-B components directly.

But auditory memory is absolutely crucial to musicians, who often have to play from memory. So they train their memories in various ways. And a big issue for actors who can get quite neurotic about memorising lines. All gets worse with age, as memory slips tend to accumulate, or at least you also think they do since there have been incrementally more of them.

I'm fortunate in having a very good auditory memory - very useful for a jazz musician who has to memorise the changes for hundreds of standard tunes. I also have a good memory for the tone and timbre of acoustic instruments having been on stage next to them for most of my life. And that has a huge effect on what I listen for when I choose components - lifelike timbre.
 

DomT

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The usual term is "auditory memory".

I find memory isn't ultra reliable for tiny sound changes in one's system - you really need to A-B components directly.

But auditory memory is absolutely crucial to musicians, who often have to play from memory. So they train their memories in various ways. And a big issue for actors who can get quite neurotic about memorising lines. All gets worse with age, as memory slips tend to accumulate, or at least you also think they do since there have been incrementally more of them.

I'm fortunate in having a very good auditory memory - very useful for a jazz musician who has to memorise the changes for hundreds of standard tunes. I also have a good memory for the tone and timbre of acoustic instruments having been on stage next to them for most of my life. And that has a huge effect on what I listen for when I choose components - lifelike timbre.
And not only for remembering pieces but also in the case of people recording pieces. We have to remember the sound of instruments, and the various takes, and the many changes that often happen as a piece is put together. When choosing say a synth lead line I need to remember the timbre of many sounds that just one synth can make and chose from the many synths that I own as to what to use and why.

Like anything in life the more that you do something the more that you are in tune with differences. I personally find it pretty easy to identify differences in A/B demonstrations as wammers whom I have visited know and so I have a good short term audio memory. It's useful for shortlisting purposes but not necessarily in deciding on what to buy. My preference is to live with a piece of kit for a few days and see how enjoyable it is.
 

Nativebon

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Even if we do remember what instruments sound like, some may supposingly still not like music presented to sound real. Some may prefer a softer presentation so as to listen for longer hours.... Kind of back roll seating presentation.

So much to factor in when it comes to tone and timbre as per capturing of sound to mastering. IMHO most systems are tailored to sound Pleasant due to exorbitant numbers of badly mastered music.

Audible memory becomes less important unless one compromises and listens to only pristine recordings as suppose ones favourites.
Having said the above, there is a thin line between pleasantness and realism of music.
 
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pmcuk

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Even if we do remember what instruments sound like, some may supposingly still not like music presented to sound real. Some may prefer a softer presentation so as to listen for longer hours.... there is a thin line between pleasantness and realism of music.

If you are talking about acoustic instruments, I don't think this is true at all. If you listen to live music, it is actually very smooth and unremarkable. There just isn't any added distortion at all.

The problem with playing back recordings is that you are adding all kinds of distortion. As a result, listening may be more "pleasant" if you try to mask the distortion in various ways. But then it isn't "real". Live music is both real and pleasant. So the perfect system will keep the real sound of instruments, and in theory the more real it is the more pleasant it is because you are hearing the acoustic instruments in the way they were meant to be heard. After all, acoustic instruments have evolved to sound pleasant to our ears - that's the whole point of music.
 

hiesteem

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I've learnt not to critically listen. Instead I enjoy my latest purchase of artist. Consequently I am aware of the the systems presentation, whilst definitely enjoying the music.
My focus has definitely shifted onto, getting my next hit of jazz, rock, or whatever artist I am into at the time. Currently I'm really appreciating Jim Hall. Fabulous acoustic jazz guitar The trios he worked with had everything your system needs for a workout, texture, tone, timing, all in an intimate setting of an acoustic jazz session. So get some Jim hall and treat your ears (y).

However back to the equipment. When I am listening to audio equipment at a show or in a shop, I focus on the systems overall presentation. They all have one. I find that tells me if I could listen to the system over a long period of time, which is essential for me.
This approach really simplifies my level of interest in equipment. If I like the overall presentation of the system, I simply build on it's strengths, which is often intuitive in terms of adding something.
Not very technical perhaps, but not sure that matters much with audio equipment. Although I'm sure there's some that would disagree.
 
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DomT

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If you are talking about acoustic instruments, I don't think this is true at all. If you listen to live music, it is actually very smooth and unremarkable. There just isn't any added distortion at all.
This is true although I went to a couple of jazz concerts recently and one band was quite experimental and as I hadnt heard a live drum kit so close for some time I was astonished at the sound in the venue. I would have preferred that the ‘treble had been rolled off a little’! 😂
 
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uzzy

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The problem with AB dems are when two items are so similar that it takes an age to differentiate between the two, In my books when that happens then in 99.9999% of cases I would be happy with the cheaper item. If they both cost the same then I would stick with what I have and spend a lot more time until i find something that is better.

So far in my many years of this game for me my ears have never let me down. If something sounds great on first listening the chances are it is going to sound great after a week of listening. Mind you I always use some torture tracks for dem that will show up nasties pretty quickly.

CD players did give me a problem though .. listened to dozens over the years and have yet to hear one that made me sit up and go wow (as I did when I first encountered a Decca Gold in a Mayware Formula 4 on a Micro Seiki DDX 1000, or the first time I listened to the Acoustat 4x (4 panel electrostatics).

Perhaps working with the stuff for many years and hearing so much and trying to appreciate customers needs and choices has led me into a tunnel vision of what i like soundwise and that is the sound memory I carry when I go to listen to stuff I guess.

The problem is we can all make our systems sound better but it depends on how much time and money you are prepared to spend to reach a nirvana and invariably for those who constantly change that plateau is never reached. I love the sound of my system and yes I do have an itch for a new amp but have yet to find one that makes a considerable improvement to justify the expense of the change. So perhaps I am just lucky that I can now concentrate on the music and not hear the equipment.
 
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tuga

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If you are talking about acoustic instruments, I don't think this is true at all. If you listen to live music, it is actually very smooth and unremarkable. There just isn't any added distortion at all.
There can be distortion produced by the venue or one's ears.

The problem with playing back recordings is that you are adding all kinds of distortion. As a result, listening may be more "pleasant" if you try to mask the distortion in various ways. But then it isn't "real". Live music is both real and pleasant. So the perfect system will keep the real sound of instruments, and in theory the more real it is the more pleasant it is because you are hearing the acoustic instruments in the way they were meant to be heard. After all, acoustic instruments have evolved to sound pleasant to our ears - that's the whole point of music.
This I agree with.
The adding of distortion starts with the mics and their positioning and ends with the speakers and the listening room. Stereo aims at creating an illusion, it produces a second nature that is different from the original event (if there was one).
It cannot recreate the original soundfield.

In audio word "reproduction" refers to the recorded signal and "realism" depends on the recording technique.
The goal is perhaps "musicality", a personal call which refers to a presentation that sounds pleasant and varies from person to person.
 

hiesteem

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CD players did give me a problem though .. listened to dozens over the years and have yet to hear one that made me sit up and go wow (as I did when I first encountered a Decca Gold in a Mayware Formula 4 on a Micro Seiki DDX 1000, or the first time I listened to the Acoustat 4x (4 panel electrostatics).
I think the London Decca cartirdges are an exceptional device and different to the conventional sound of a cartridge. Where cd is concerned give the Restek Epos a listen sometime, it might just give you that extra factor from Cd replay that most players don't give.
 

pmcuk

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In audio word "reproduction" refers to the recorded signal and "realism" depends on the recording technique.
The goal is perhaps "musicality", a personal call which refers to a presentation that sounds pleasant and varies from person to person.
I was made dramatically aware of this at an evening session in Oslo when a bunch of us musicians went over to the studios ECM used and listened to some master tapes. One of the musicians was Jon Christensen, the drummer on Keith Jarrett albums for ECM. The engineer was Jan Erik Kongshaug, himself a guitarist. We spent a long time listening to the drums on the master tape and I was struck be how beautiful they sounded. At first I was going to attribute that to state of the art equipment, but it wasn't that at all. The big reason why the drums sounded so great was that they were musical. They had been mic'd and mixed in such a way that the individual parts of the kit fitted together harmoniously and produced a sound that was not just realistic but perfectly balanced and beautiful. Only a really good musician, which Jan Erik was, would know how to do that.

So yes, "musicality" counts so much - the art of reproducing not just the sound but the musical content of what is being played. A badly mixed drum kit would sound like dustbins falling over, a musical mix would sound musical. And the same right through the orchestra or band. Good sound recording is a fine art and a very tall mountain to climb.
 
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uzzy

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Restek Epos
It may but at the price it costs there is no way to justify the spend. I wonder how it compares to the DCS stuff which almost got me enthusiastic until I saw the price.
I am a cheapskate perhaps, but when I hooked a Cambridge Dacmagic into the system and fed a Meridian 206 and 506 20 bit player (both highly reviewed and regarded) and it sounded better than the onboard DACs and both fell short of the old Pioneer PDS802 I had passed over to my daughter when I got the Meridian 506 you have to wonder.
I have yet to hear any CD player that provides the life and involvement of a great LP under the Decca Supergold.
At the end of the day what really puts me off high price cd players is the laser will die and it will be irreplaceable and it defeats the hell out of me why the transports were never designed to just change the bulb when it goes. With the cry of recycling and less waste it is even more of a crying shame.
I had my fingers burned once with the Meridian 506 which at £1200 new back in the early 90s was a hell of a lot of money and ended up as an irrepariable lump .. (as did many Naim, Wadia and other cd players/transports). If anyone thinks i am going to part with a few grand on a cd player now they have another thing coming.
 

hiesteem

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If anyone thinks i am going to part with a few grand on a cd player now they have another thing coming.
Not trying to tempt you Uzzy. Perhaps just give a flavour of something a bit different to some of the ear bleeders out there. As for longevity, I have had mine for 24 years.
Restek service and keep parts in storage. Cold storage apparently, whatever that means.
I agree it's a huge investment, not so much for me as I have my walls stacked with Cd box sets etc.
 
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